Undoubtedly Health Visitors provide a lot of advice, guidance and reassurance for many new mums, and I certainly would not want a situation where we didn’t have them on hand. However, there is one piece of advice that they gave to me, and to all of the other mums I know, that I would disagree with; and that was to not try a breastfed baby on a bottle until they are six-weeks old.
My firstborn (Sofia) arrived eight days before my 30th birthday. I wasn’t going to be out partying but I knew I certainly wanted a good number of postpartum and ‘hello 30s’ alcoholic beverages! I was however breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding was going well and by day five/six my milk was already well established, so I tried expressing. After a few attempts with fairly meagre results I was able to express enough for a full feed. I tried Sofia with the bottle and she went for it immediately. I reverted to breastfeeding throughout the night and then the following day, and then tried a further bottle in the evening. I found she was able to interchange between both feeding methods without any problems. I was confident that by my birthday it would be fine, and it was.
I got in there with the expressing before the Health Visitor advised me not to. She was in fact quite surprised at the success I had, had (though she was supportive). However, many friends did follow the six-week advice to avoid what was described as ‘baby confusion’ and all found by this point their babies would not accept the bottle.
When my twins came along I started them on expressed milk on day three, and again they had no issue swapping between the two. I ensured that my husband gave bottles too. It offered great flexibility and was a lovely bonding experience for him.
There may be certain circumstances where you should wait, but from my experience – and others that I have spoken to – if breastfeeding is going well there doesn’t seem to be a problem with expressing and bottle-feeding early on.
What to buy?
With Sofia I got a hand pump and soon changed to electric a) it was so, so much better at extracting milk and b) I did actually fear I’d get arthritis in my wrist. With the twins, I got the best pump money could buy. It was a double one, which if I had to do it again for a single baby would get again (on reflection, it would save so much time for one baby). Double is certainly not essential for a singleton though.